Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hibernation wrap up

Long time no see! I was very ambitious with my sewing plans for the winter break, of course I only managed to make a fraction of what I'd planned for. I did, however, fulfil all my eating, fireplace and board game ambitions.

Still, a few things to report here. First of all, I made a wrap skirt. I really want to love it, since I'm happy with the finishing and fit, but it's proven a bit hard to wear. I don't know if it's the volume or the colour, but for some reason few of my tops really seem to go with it. So I just resort to boring black...

It's Burdastyle's Inverse Pleated Mini Skirt, although I made it a little less mini. Of all the skirt options out there, I mainly wanted to try out this pattern because I'd never worked with Petersham or grosgrain ribbon before, it seemed like such an easy way to finish a skirt. This really worked out, it gives a clean, polished look, and I was able to knock this skirt out in a few hours, even hemming it by hand. I finished the seams on my serger.

There is quite a lot of bulk on the fronts with the faced wrap-style on top of the heavy pleats. This is especially challenging with wintery fabrics, like this moss green moleskin. I do love this fabric: it's a Ralph Lauren cotton I got on sale from Fabric Mart, and it feels very nice to the touch. I do wear this skirt with a slip, since the fabric tends to cling to tights. Also, as always, it needs more ironing than I care to know.

My only regret is the pockets: the white lining shows more than I'd like, and they add even more bulk. Maybe I'll close them and cut them out. They are very handy for awkward photo poses though! Going back and perfecting finished items is something I should probably add to the list of resolutions for the year...

Hopefully I will be able to take some better photos for this here blog in 2014 as well. Daylight always helps with that, but for now, I am leaving that polar vortex for what it is...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Better late than never: Floral Chiffon Blouse

I don't know about you, but for me, beginning is always easier than finishing! This blouse has taken me the past few months to complete, but I think it was worth the wait. 

I got this crinkle mulberry silk chiffon from on a whim, it's made by Betsey Johnson. I got an amazing end of the line steal, but it's still for sale on Etsy and Vogue fabrics. I don't usually go for these floral prints, but the combination of the darker autumnal shades and the crinkle chiffon made this one pretty special.

I originally had an Archer in mind for this fabric, but when I considered all the details and yoke that would be involved, with my patience with slippery silk in mind, I reneged and settled for the aptly named Burdastyle 'Simple Blouse' pattern.

The sleeves looked a little wide and bell-y for me (I have a hate-hate relationship with bell sleeves), so, using my newly acquired pattern drafting skills, I drew a new sleeve. I was very happy with the fit, but botched up the placket so much come sewing time, that I now wear the sleeves rolled up. This, and other frustrations working with the chiffon, led me to put this project aside for a looong time.

Very late into this make I finally remembered an awesome trick I'd been meaning to try for a while: sewing silk with thin paper underneath - it really makes all the difference! I watched horrible slippery messes turn into submissive round hems right before my eyes! I know some folks use special tear-away paper, but for me, in absence of phonebook paper which would have been even better, the local Princetonian newspaper performed just fine, it ripped off well after sewing.

I hand sewed the front button band down and am still waiting to receive some very lovely mother of pearl baby pink buttons to attach. The post is taking its time, like I have on this one, so I suppose I can't complain!

In contrast, these wintery treats were done in two nights - who said sewing was faster than knitting?
More details on these here and here.

Friday, November 29, 2013


It's been a while, but my little machine did not sit idly! I have made a few garments in November, and many more plans for projects.

This coat was done just in time for the beginning of cold here, and a good thing too because I don't exactly flourish in winter weather. It's made of wool melton, which I discovered is basically thick squishy delicious felt.

I had this gorgeous plum wool from Fabric mart lying around for a long time, and as I saw November approaching realised I needed to make a coat quickly: something very warm without the hassles of collar and pockets. Enter Burdastyle Cocoon Coat 10/2013 #103. This came together in about a week, and with no construction troubles whatsoever.

I graded this pattern down to a size 34 - it always puzzles me why some of Burda's patterns are offered from size 36, and others go down to 34. In any case, I have to say I felt much more confident doing this now that I am nearing the end of my pattern making class! I also had to perform some major surgery on the sleeves - I shaved off almost 2 inches from the outside curves. I don't think the winged look I started out with was all the pattern's fault: my wool is so thick and heavy-handed, it practically stood up in the curves around the elbow.

The coat is lined with flannel-backed satin, so it's doubly insulating. Since I wanted to finish this fast, I made the lining free-hanging, and attached it by hand at the wrists.

In knitting news, I finished a Rowan design I'd been working in for over 6 months... For knitters out there, the details are here!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving / regular old Thursday! I'll be back soon with more new makes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Matchy matchy

This coat has caused a bit of a schism in the household. This was my first winter coat, I made it last year and I happen to like it VERY much. I also happen to be the person who spent hours matching plaid. Causally related? Perhaps. But could my judgment really be that clouded?

Ok, so the vintage red leather buttons may be a bit ... exuberant. They may match the red leather under collar and lining a bit too closely. Is that really reason enough to dub this my 'clown coat'?!

This coat is from a vintage 1960s pattern, Simplicity 6682. I made the shorter length. The instructions on this pattern were excellent, and the illustrations saved me when the time came to attach the lining. I also referred to my copy of 'Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket' a lot. This book is so interesting, even if some of the more involved techniques will never make it into my sewing life. Turns out I am strictly a fusible interfacing kind of girl. 

When I first tried on my coat mid-process, I was very disappointed with the fit: rather potatosackish. But then I read on in my instructions and had a little lightbulb moment - shoulder pads! It only makes sense for a 60s coat in weighty wool. The idea took a bit of getting used to, but I've fully come round to these things. Besides giving this coat the intended silhouette, they make the sleeve caps sit nicely in the armholes as well. Thanks pads. 

See, I wear it open and I totally do not look like a character from Clueless. I look like an Elegant Woman I tell you. [This is where the internet comes out and rules in my favour people].

I wear this coat quite a bit at the moment, especially with this scarf I knitted last Spring. It's Jared Flood's Cinder pattern, if you're into knitting you can read more about my version here.

I have another coat in the works, a bit more subdued this time, but definitely sticking to the early sixties fit and style!